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7.6 Networking Case Studies

Learning Objectives

  1. Practice networking case studies to better understand how to build a sustainable network.
  2. Appreciate the nuances that are involved when you build relationships during your career search.

Case studies are a great way to “practice” your networking skills, which is always a wise thing to do. They teach you how to network better in a variety of situations.

Case Study 1

Your mentor introduces you to her colleague who introduces you to a business lead (say Jane Smith), who consents to an informational interview. You send your mentor’s colleague a nice thank-you and schedule the interview. The interview is substantive, and you send Jane Smith a nice thank-you. Two weeks later you get a formal interview, which you schedule for later. Are you done for now?

Case Study 2

You get an informational interview with a managing director, Jeff Roberts, in the boutique firm that specializes in exactly what you want to do. He asks you to coordinate with his assistant to get on his calendar. You call her to schedule the meeting. After the interview, you send Jeff Roberts a nice thank-you. Have you completed the interview etiquette?

Case Study 3

You are late for a 1:30 interview at a company’s headquarters and by the time you get there, it’s about 1:25. You go to the security desk, but bypass the X-ray area, so they redirect you there. You get a bit huffy. You rush to the elevator and fail to keep it open for a woman who is trying to get in. When you finally make it upstairs, you are escorted to the office, and asked to wait for a moment or two. When the person with whom you are meeting finally arrives, you recognize each other: you didn’t save the elevator for her. What do you do?

Case Study 4

You are scheduled for a second interview on a Friday, at 5 p.m. You are invited to attend the company’s weekly happy hour and afterward meet with some of the team privately for one-on-one interviews. You wear an interview suit and discover everyone else is wearing jeans. At your first interview, they had all worn business casual. “Jeans are allowed on Friday,” someone calls out. Are you appropriately dressed? What if you get called in the next Friday—what do you wear?

Case Study 5

You are very interested in working for two companies, and fortunately, you are in final rounds with both. You receive the first offer, and feel strongly that you will accept—in fact, you know you will if you get the second offer. The deadline for the first offer is a week away. The second company calls to schedule a final round. What do you tell them?

Case Study 6

You are in a two-on-one interview. One person is a line business manager and is taking the lead in the interview; the other person is an HR representative and does not say much. How do you conduct yourself during the interview and how do you interact with each person?

Case Study 7

You are attending a school-sponsored networking event with your classmates and representatives from a top marketing firm. You strike up a conversation with a company person and realize that several of your classmates have gathered to either contribute to your discussion or ask their own questions of the company representative with whom you are speaking. You first finish with the conversation before turning to your classmates and acknowledging their presence. Is this good or bad networking behavior? Why?

Case Study 8

You have accepted an invitation to attend training with the office of career services because a representative from a top company will be giving an overview of their business. At the last minute, you need to cram for an exam. In addition, you also do not feel well, so you decide not to attend. Is this is good or bad networking behavior? Why?

Case Study: Things to Consider

Here are key points to consider for each of these case studies, which will help you build upon your networking skills.

Case Study 1

The topic is “Mentor Introductions and Follow-Up”:

  • Always keep your mentor in the loop. They want to know you are taking their advice and reaping the fruits of your efforts. Your mentor is there to help you succeed.
  • Maintain good relationships with everyone with whom you come into contact, and you will benefit in the long run. Sending thank-you notes shows good manners and an appreciative attitude, and it’s a good way to stay connected.
  • Be aware of the matrixA pattern that helps to organize organizations or processes. relationships all around you. When you land a position in a corporation, you can often have three or four different managers. Navigating these individuals with ease separates you from those who have difficulty doing so.

Case Study 2

The topic is “Informational Interview Follow-Up”:

  • It’s always wise to thank everyone who has helped you to land interviews and coordinate schedules. This includes administrative staff.
  • Administrative assistants often carry influence with their manager, so the extra step to extend thanks for their efforts is good manners and good career management.

Case Study 3

The topic is “Late for an Interview”:

  • You only get one chance to make a first impression!
  • You have to apologize, give a short explanation, and move on quickly.
  • You next redirect your focus to the interview at hand and do your very best.

Case Study 4

The topic is “Business or Business Casual Dress”:

  • When in doubt, always dress in business attire. You had no idea it was dress-down Friday, so it was wise for you to wear a suit.
  • When you get called back the following Friday, you remember that jeans are allowed on Friday. Jeans are allowed, but that doesn’t mean everyone wears them. The more senior people may wear khakis, and if you wore jeans, you could be dressed inappropriately (i.e., more casually than the senior managers). Remember that you are not yet an employee; you are still a candidate, so dress more conservatively.
  • When interviewing in different industries, keep in mind that different dress protocols apply, for example, nuances in media are dramatically different from financial services.

Case Study 5

The topic is “Multiple Offers”:

  • The most impressive candidates communicate well and let recruiters and hiring managers know that they have options. It’s especially impressive when they communicate deadlines so appropriate actions can be taken.
  • If you know you want a position with a company and you know you will accept its offer, take yourself out of the running for the second opportunity. It shows (a) confidence, (b) goodwill, and (c) your thoughtfulness in giving other candidates a chance to interview. The positive qualities and effects of this decision just go on and on!
  • On the other hand, it’s always good to explore all options. Definitely let the second company know that you have received an offer from another company. Exploring this second company may help you decide which company you prefer. Perhaps they will expedite the interview process because they really want you, and then you can make a more informed decision.

Case Study 6

The topic is “Live Interviewing with Multiple Interviewers”:

  • Acknowledge the business manager and the HR representative and treat both with utmost respect. When answering the business manager’s questions, direct your answer to both parties and maintain eye contact with both.
  • Remember, at all stages of the interview and job search process, you are constantly marketing yourself and selling your abilities.
  • You have no idea which person is the real decision maker.
  • Ask each interviewer questions and tailor your questions to the interviewer.
  • You may be in other situations when you are in a group, yet talking mostly to one person. Be polite and address and acknowledge all members in the group.
  • Remember that the HR representative has the ability to direct you to another business, should your interview with this particular business not go as well as you would like.

Case Study 7

The topic is “Being Inclusive at a Networking Event”:

  • Always include others in your conversation; this is both thoughtful and polite.
  • Encourage others to ask questions. You can always learn from their questions and the responses they receive.

Case Study 8

The topic is “Office of Career Services Training Session”:

  • If you have accepted an invitation to attend an event, barring a medical emergency, you should make every effort to attend. Your attendance is a reflection of your commitment.
  • If you absolutely cannot attend, make sure you contact someone in career services and let them know why you cannot attend. Simply not showing up is in poor taste and disrespectful of other people’s efforts on your behalf.
  • If you don’t show and there is a poor turnout, the company sponsoring the business overview may decide to do fewer events with the school or pull out altogether.

Key Takeaways

  • Case studies are an excellent way to learn about proper networking etiquette.
  • If you are in a position where you are not sure what to do, consult someone with the relevant expertise, including someone in career services if at all possible.
  • Good networking behavior can influence your success in the job search.
  • If in doubt, always dress professionally for networking activities with firms, even if it’s well known that their dress code is casual.

Exercise

  1. Pair up with a team of five classmates to create your own networking etiquette case studies, preferably using something that truly happened. Share your case studies in class to continue the learning.